Israeli student charged for killing Palestinian in stone attack

Prosecutors have charged an unnamed 16-year-old Israeli for his involvement in the killing of a 47-year-old Palestinian.

    In this file photo from October, Palestinians carry the body of Aisha al-Rawbi, 47, during her funeral in the West Bank village of Biddya [File: Majdi Mohammed/AP Photo]
    In this file photo from October, Palestinians carry the body of Aisha al-Rawbi, 47, during her funeral in the West Bank village of Biddya [File: Majdi Mohammed/AP Photo]

    Israeli prosecutors have charged a 16-year-old seminary student with manslaughter for his involvement in a rock-throwing attack that killed a Palestinian woman in her car.

    The teenager, who was not named in the indictment on Thursday because he is a minor, was one of five students arrested after the death of Aisha al-Rawbi, 47, who died of a head wound in October after stones were thrown at her near an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.

    Besides manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, the prosecutors allege the teen threw the stone in the anti-Arab attack "as part of an act of terror". He was also charged with stone-throwing and intentional sabotage of a vehicle, both "under terrorist circumstances".

    Al-Rawbi died after a 2kg stone smashed through the windshield of the car she was travelling in with her husband and nine-year-old daughter in the West Bank on October 12. 

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    Her husband managed to continue driving and make it to a Palestinian clinic, where al-Rawbi eventually died, according to prosecutors.

    Footage of the scene showed what appeared to be a blood-stained broken brick at the foot of the passenger seat, which was covered in shattered glass and bloodstains.

    Following al-Rawbi's death, Israeli authorities started an investigation, which led to the arrest of the suspect on December 30.

    Four other suspects arrested as part of the investigation have been released to house arrest. The five were students at the Pri Haaretz religious seminary in the Rechelim settlement in the occupied West Bank.

    DNA evidence

    According to a court officer, who spoke to Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity, the evidence against the teenager includes his DNA found on the stone, but lawyers for the teen have denied he had any involvement in the case.

    "This indictment stands on a weak footing and DNA, which we doubt will stand up to court scrutiny," defence lawyer Amir Bracha said.

    The teenager's family has also said he was innocent, alleging prosecutors were desperate to charge someone with the crime. "We know that our son is innocent," a statement from the suspect's father said. 

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    Al-Rawbi's husband Yacoub said he had no faith in Israeli justice and wanted a hearing in an international court.

    "The Israeli police and intelligence both know who hit us leading to my wife's death but they charged one person only," he said.

    "When they hit our car with stones they were more than four people," he told AFP news agency.

    "I want all those who killed my wife to be tried in an international court."

    Anti-Arab attacks

    According to rights activists, Israel has been dragging its feet in cases of anti-Arab attacks by Israeli settlers in comparison to investigations into Palestinian attacks. 

    Far-right Israelis, however, said suspects have undergone coercion and torture.

    The most high-profile case in recent years was a 2015 firebombing of a home in the Palestinian village of Duma that killed an 18-month-old boy and his parents.

    Amiram Ben-Uliel, 21, from the northern West Bank settlement of Shilo, was charged with three counts of murder and one of attempted murder, arson and conspiracy to commit a hate crime in the case.

    A 17-year-old was charged with being an accessory to committing a racially motivated murder.

    However, an Israeli court has since thrown out parts of the confessions of both the minor and Ben-Uliel, ruling that they were obtained through physical coercion, dealing a setback to the case.

    The minor in the case was released to house arrest in July after the ruling on the confessions.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies